Christian Theology and Racist Ideology: A Case Study of Nazi Theology and Apartheid Theology

Nico Vorster


This article focuses on the role that distorted Christian theology played in the construction of the racial ideologies of Nazism and Apartheid. The central theoretical argument is that these theologies were instrumental in sacralising the history of a specific group by creating origin myths, by idolising the ingroup, defining the outgroup, by providing racist ideologies with rituals and symbols and by creating final utopian solutions. The theological doctrines that were used are characterised by certain common features, such as a collectivist anthropology, the identification of the church with an ethnic group, the view of history as a source of revelation, and the appropriation of myths. The article concludes with the remark that the modern global environment is particularly vulnerable to racism. It is therefore important for Christianity to clearly identify the common characteristics of pseudo-racist theology and to educate its adherents on the difference between authentic theology and pseudo-theology, so that they will not fall prey to destructive forms of religion that encourage racism.


racial ideology; Christian theology; racism; Nazism; Apartheid; ethnic group

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